Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Cuba Temporarily Cuts Prices at Stores

Cuba Temporarily Cuts Prices at Stores
Monday November 28, 3:04 pm ET
By Anita Snow, Associated Press Writer

Cuba Temporarily Cuts Prices on Selected Food, Other Products at State-Run Hard Currency Stores
HAVANA (AP) -- Cuba temporarily cut prices on selected food and other products at state-run hard currency stores on Monday as part of a campaign to make goods more accessible to Cubans of lesser means.
The temporary markdown added to good news for government workers who recently received pay raises. It covers all stores selling goods in a currency known as the convertible Cuban peso last through Dec. 9, according to a government announcement published by state media over the weekend.
A survey of some stores found that prices on some, but not all products had been marked down by 10 to 20 percent, including canned and other packaged goods. A bottle of cooking oil was marked down from 2.20 ($2.37 or euro2)to 1.95 ($2.10 or euro1.80) convertible Cuban pesos.
The vast majority of consumer products in Cuba are sold in these stores, all of which are run by the communist government, in convertible Cuban pesos. The convertible peso replaced the U.S. dollar as a major form of currency on the island last year.
Cuba's other national currency, the Cuban peso, is used to pay government salaries and for government services such as electricity, transportation and a monthly food ration. Few other items are offered in regular Cuban pesos.
Over the past year, authorities have tried to reverse the long slide in the buying power of the average Cuban's salary.
The Cuban system offers a broad social safety net, with free health care and education, and heavily subsidized services such as transportation, as well as a ration that includes about a third of the average person's monthly diet. Most Cubans also pay nothing, or very little for housing.
While the minimum wages was more than doubled to 225 pesos (about $10), many Cubans find it difficult to buy many other items, including the rest of their food and other consumer goods.

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